Well for all of you Caesar-obsessed kindred spirits out there, get ready to bookmark today’s recipe. Because the classic Caesar dressing recipe that I have to share with you today is my hands-down fave.
I tend to get on a bit of a soapbox when it comes to Caesar salad, because far too many of the Caesar dressings I have tried over the years taste like creamy, watered-down, halfhearted versions of the real deal — which simply will not do! A really great Caesar should be unapologetically packed with bold umami flavors. We’re talking whole anchovies (yes, they are the essential starring ingredient in modern Caesar dressing and cannot be missed), raw egg yolks (also traditional, but I’ve included alternatives below if needed), spicy raw garlic, tangy Dijon, salty Parmesan, freshly-squeezed lemon juice, a generous seasoning of sea salt and black pepper, and of course, lots of good-quality olive oil.
This, my friends, is the dream team of ingredients when it comes to making a great modern Caesar dressing. And when blended together into a creamy emulsion and then tossed with crisp Romaine lettuce, crunchy sourdough croutons, an extra sprinkle of Parm and black pepper — well, if you ask me, salad doesn’t just get any better than this.
The good news for all of us is that this homemade Caesar dressing recipe is easy to whip up in just a few minutes. So grab those anchovies (yes! you can do it!), and let’s make a batch together. ♡
Homemade Caesar Dressing Ingredients:
We all have Chef Caesar Cardini to thank for the inspiration for this recipe, whose famous salad (which interestingly originated in Mexico and California, not Italy) used to be dramatically prepared table-side for guests at his restaurants back in the 1920s. The original Caesar dressing was said to have been made with Worcestershire sauce, but modern versions have amped up the flavor with the addition of whole anchovies, which I agree are an essential flavor in the more modern Caesar salad that I fell in love with growing up.
Full ingredient amounts are listed in the recipe box below, but here are a few notes on the ingredients you will need:
Anchovy fillets: Anchovies can usually be found in the canned fish aisle of the grocery store, where they are typically sold in glass jars or flat tins and packed in oil. Or you can order them online. Just lift out and drain any excess oil off of each anchovy fillet (don’t worry if you spy any tiny bones, they are harmless) and add them to this recipe. Alternately, if you really prefer not to deal with whole fish, you are welcome to use anchovy paste instead, in which case you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste per fillet.
Garlic cloves: I love the spicy flavor of raw garlic in this recipe and typically add two small cloves of garlic, but you can add one if you prefer your dressing to be a bit less garlicky.
Egg yolks: As mentioned above, raw egg yolks are traditionally used in Caesar dressing. But they carry a risk of salmonella, so if you prefer not to use them, you can either use pasteurized egg yolks instead. Or you can substitute 1 tablespoon of mayo per egg yolk, which will result in a creamier dressing.
Parmesan: I highly recommend freshly-grating some good-quality Parmesan here, to give this dressing the best texture and flavor.
Lemon juice: Also freshly-squeezed, please. (Feel free to also add in the lemon zest, if you would like even more lemony flavor in your dressing.)
Dijon mustard: Just a touch to bring together all of these savory flavors.
Fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper: For seasoning.
Olive oil: And finally, some good-quality olive oil, which will create the base for this Caesar salad dressing.
A double batch of this recipe is pictured here :)
How To Make Caesar Salad Dressing:
After years of whisking Caesar dressing by hand, I figured out a few years ago that it is much easier to make with a traditional blender which is what I always use nowadays. That said, I have included instructions in the recipe box below (at the bottom of this post) for how to make Caesar dressing with a traditional blender, a hand blender, or 100% by hand. So choose whatever works for you!
To make this recipe with a traditional blender, simply…
Blend base ingredients: Blitz everything but the olive oil in the blender for a few seconds.
Add olive oil. Then while the blender is still running, carefully remove the small cap from the blender lid and gradually stream in the olive oil until the dressing is completely blended and smooth.
Adjust seasonings/consistency. Add in a few tablespoons of water, as needed, until the dressing achieves your desired consistency. (I prefer mine to be about the consistency of heavy cream.) Then taste and add extra salt and/or black pepper, if needed.
Serve or store. Serve the dressing immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours. (Since the dressing contains raw eggs, it should be consumed the same day it is made.)
Caesar Dressing Variations:
This recipe is definitely one where you can tweak the amounts of ingredients to customize it to taste. For example, feel free to add more/less anchovies, garlic, lemon juice, Parm and/or Dijon to taste. You can also…
Use pasteurized eggs or mayo: If you prefer not to use raw eggs in this recipe, you can use pasteurized egg yolks instead. Or you also substitute 1 tablespoon of mayo for each egg yolk, which will result in a creamier dressing.
Add Worcestershire: Some people really like to add Worcestershire to their Caesar dressing too. (Since most of the Worcestershire flavors are already included in this recipe, I prefer to skip it. But feel free to add in a teaspoon or two if you would like.)
Use more/less anchovies: I love a full-flavored Caesar dressing that uses lots of anchovies. But they are quite salty and flavorful, so feel free to use fewer anchovies (I would recommend starting with 3) if you prefer. Or if you really love anchovies, you can increase the amount to 6 or 7.
Blend the base ingredients. Add the anchovy filets, garlic, egg yolks, Parmesan, lemon juice, Dijon, sea salt and black pepper to a blender. Purée for 5 seconds, or until combined.
Add olive oil. While the blender is still running, remove the small cap from the blender lid and gradually stream in the olive oil until the dressing is completely smooth.
Adjust seasonings/consistency. Add a few tablespoons of water, as needed, until the dressing achieves your desired consistency. (I prefer mine to be about the consistency of heavy cream.) Then taste and add extra salt and/or black pepper, if needed.
Serve. Serve the dressing immediately, or refrigerate for up to 8 hours. (If using raw eggs in this dressing, it should be consumed the same day it is made.)
Anchovies: Please feel free to use more or less anchovies to taste. When shopping for anchovies, look for the canned fish aisle for small jars or tins of anchovies packed in oil. Alternately, you can use anchovy paste (1/2 teaspoon = 1 anchovy, more or less), but to be honest, I much prefer the flavor of the whole anchovy filets in this recipe.
Raw eggs: Raw egg yolks are traditionally used in Caesar dressing. But they do carry the risk of salmonella, so you consume them at your own risk. If you prefer not to use raw eggs in this recipe, you are welcome to use pasteurized egg yolks instead. Or you can substitute 1 tablespoon of mayo for each yolk.
How to make this recipe by hand: Finely mince the anchovy filets and garlic (or mash them together into a paste). In a mixing bowl, whisk them together with the egg yolks, Parmesan, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper until combined. Then while whisking the mixture with one hand, gradually stream in the olive oil and continue whisking the dressing vigorously until it is completely smooth. Continue with steps 3 and 4.
How to make this recipe with an immersion blender: Combine the base ingredients (in Step 1) in a mixing bowl, and blend together for 5 seconds with the immersion blender. While the immersion blender is still running, gradually stream in the olive oil and continue blending until the dressing is completely smooth. Continue with steps 3 and 4.